In a society, where a royal family of seers determine a country’s future, a runaway princess and a fugitive pilot struggle to cross the border while trying to evade capture by a savage general
Two nights before the National celebrations I had a dream.
A terrible dream.
I was dressed all in white, a long dress that felt satiny against my skin with long sleeves that ended in white frills and trimmings. I remember looking down, tracing the embroidery along its cleavage. Silver spirals. The rest of my dress ballooned out from the waist, falling in soft, thick folds to the floor. I felt around my head and felt the netted piece of material attached to my hair with tiny combs. It was a veil. My veil.
This was my wedding dress.
I looked around me. I was in a huge space with narrow, pointed-arch windows set back in the stone walls on either side of me. They had stained-glass windows that flooded the space with purplish-blue light. exposing the pews. There was a central aisle strewn with red roses, a bunch of them adorning the end of each pew. The air was filled with the smell of burning candles. The walls were of exposed, gray stone stretching upwards, covered with religious symbols framed in wooden squares and crosses and other decorative work I couldn’t recognize. I stopped looking at the walls and stared forward.
Oladunni stood at the end of the aisle, dressed in a nice tuxedo, a white flower on his lapel, his smile the most beautiful I had ever seen.
I was getting married. I was getting married in a church. But there weren’t supposed to be any churches anymore.
Somebody nudged me from the side and I looked to my left. There he was, Old Father. Smiling. I held my breath and watched as he hooked his arm in mine and gestured forward with his chin. I looked forward and suddenly the pews were filled with people The people of Mount Kai. I searched for Mary, but she wasn’t among the sea of faces. I felt a tightening in my chest as I hunted some more.
“Ini….” My father whispered in my ear and gave me a hard nudge. I swallowed hard and allowed my father to lead me forward and with slow, unhurried steps I walked toward my future husband. I reminded myself how gorgeous he was, how incredible lucky I was, how he was going to set me free from this mountain prison. This was supposed to be the best day of my life. So why was I so afraid?
I reached the end of the aisle and my father let go off my hand. I stood closer to Oladunni, holding my breath as he took my hand in his. He smiled at me and I knew I loved him. There was nothing to be afraid off. Everything was going to be alright. I ignored the sharp pain in my chest as I looked forward.
There was no-one in front of us. No officiating minster. No priest even. No-one.
I swallowed and looked back at Oladunni. But he’s looking at me still, his smile still unbelievably wonderful, his eyes wide and brimming with love. I wanted to tell him something was wrong, that he should stop looking at me like he was stupid. There was no-one here to marry us.
But I said nothing. Instead I looked behind me, the cold fear clutching me, grabbing me. Nobody was there. Everyone was gone. Old Father. The good people of Mount Kai had abandoned me.
I looked back at Oladunni. But it wasn’t Oladunni anymore. It was the General.
And he was reaching for me.
I woke up screaming and had spent the night sitting in my bed, the lights on, hugging my knees to my chest.
Later that morning when I’d convinced myself that bad dreams weren’t so scary in the daytime, I spent my hours trying to decide between the gold-green dress that made me look too young or the coral-colored dress with the short sleeves that made me look old. When I finally settled on the strapless dress with sun-ray pleats, still sliding my hands against its soft fabric ,I remembered something. Something I had screamed that night.
I had screamed a name.